Today we are going to discuss some scientific ideas that proport to prove the existence of God. They were originally proposed by Thomas Aquinas in the 13th century. Thomas lived from 1224 to 1274. He was a great scientific philosopher-theologian of the Catholic Church and lived before modern science was a recognized discipline.
So lets take a brief look at the history of Science. What would be considered Ancient Science had its earliest roots in Ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia starting around 3000 BC to about 1200 BC. Its contributions shaped Greek natural philosophy and the ideas of Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle, all living in the 5th to 4th Century BC. Ancient Science provided explanations of events in the physical world based on natural causes.
Then, in the 15th through the mid-18th centuries the Scientific Revolution and the birth of modern scientific methods occured, resulting in substantial advances in factual knowledge in chemistry, biology and physics.
So after the Greek philosophers and just before the Scientific Revolution started, Thomas Aquinas published his Five Ways.
In his book, Summa Theologica, he proposed his "Five Ways" or five logical arguments for the existence of God. His Five Ways were designed to prove the existence of God through nature. Although they were first proposed over 700 years ago, they still have relevance today.
Thomas' intent for the Five Ways was to demonstrate a general, objective, rational case for God’s existence using commonly available (at his time) observations. The Five Ways are best viewed as an introduction to the idea of God’s existence, not the entire sum of Christian theology.
The Five Ways to show the existence of God according to Thomas Aquinas:
- The First Way – An Unmoved Mover - The Argument from Change
- The Second Way – The First Cause - The Argument from Causality
- The Third Way – Contingency or Necessary Being - The Argument from Contingency
- The Fourth Way – Gradation - The Argument from Perfection
- The Fifth Way – Design - The Argument from Purpose
And the earth when they were created,
When the LORD God made the earth and the heavens.
- Genesis 2:4 (NIV)
The First Way – An Unmoved Mover - The Argument from Change
All of creation is in motion. However, nothing changes by itself without something else causing the change. There has to be an unchangeable first mover to start the whole thing in motion. The unchangeable first mover is God
The Second Way – The First Cause - The Argument from Causality
Everything in existence was caused by something else. Nothing in existence comes about by its own doing. There has to be an uncaused cause from which everything else comes. The uncaused cause is God
The Third Way – Contingency or Necessary Being - The Argument from Contingency
It is not necessary for anything in the world to exist at all. It is also true that nothing and no one exists forever. There is a necessary being on which the existence of all other things is contingent, or dependent. The necessary being that holds it all in existence is God
The Fourth Way – Gradation - The Argument from Perfection
In the world we see a spectrum on which things exist. There is a scale of good, better, and best. There must be a standard which is perfectly good, perfectly true, and perfectly beautiful. The standard by which everything else is judged is God
The Fifth Way – Design - The Argument from Purpose
There is an intelligent design to the way the world works. Internally, things lack the intelligence/functionality to operate alone. It is impossible for this intelligent design to happen completely at random. Creation needs an intelligent designer for everything to work properly. The Intelligent Designer is God
The Five Ways Today
As we can see, there are strong similarities between Aquinas’s Five Ways and many common arguments used today for the existence of God. Aquinas’s first three arguments share a common theme: that causality, logic, and so forth lead to an inference of the existence of a deity. The most frequently used of these in the modern world is referred to as the Cosmological Argument: Attempting to prove God’s existence by observing the world around us, i.e. the cosmos.
The fourth argument is almost identical to the Ontological Argument: Arguments that rely on pure reasoning. Aquinas saw a distinction; however, he was arguing that goodness or power in some finite object can only come from some other, greater source.
The fifth argument, also known as the Teleological Argument: The appearance of design and purpose in nature implies a designer, is similar to the modern-day argument from Intelligent Design: The theory says that intelligent causes are necessary to explain the complex, information-rich structures of biology and that these causes are empirically detectable.
There are two key objections by scientists today used to shut down Thomas' Five Ways. They are:
- If God existed, there would be no evil discoverable in the world; but there is evil in the world. Therefore, God does not exist.
- This does not consider that per the Christian view, God gave man free will which would allow for evil to exist.
- Everything we see in the world can be accounted for by other principles. All-natural things can be reduced to one principle which is nature; and all voluntary things can be reduced to one principle which is human reason, or will. Therefore, there is no need to suppose God’s existence.
- This does not consider that nature or reason can not exist without a higher power over all.
Scientific Discoveries that point to God (Adapted from Dr. Stephen C Meyer at the Discovery Institute)
Although not everyone will agree, there is a growing amount of evidence that there must be an outside "Force" that is driving the universe and all that happens here. We will look briefly at four recent discoveries that point to God as that Force.
- The Universe had a beginning (The Big Bang):
- Red Shift in starlight shows that the universe is expanding from a big bang singularity (creation of all matter, time, space and energy - not a material cause).
- There needs to be a cause for this (no matter who does the causing) - the best explanation is an immaterial creative mind, i.e. God
- Since the beginning the universe has been fine-tuned
- Everything is just right, not to strong or weak, or too big or small (a goldilocks universe).
- If any forces or factors are changed, even in the slightest, the universe as we know it would not exist.
- At this point there are 10's to 100's of such factors known to scientists. (Gravity, Magnetic Force, Strong Nuclear Force, Weak Nuclear Force).
- The fossil record is non-Darwinian
- Changes in speciation should be happening gradually and continually per Darwin but the actual fossil record shows changes come quickly (Scientists circumvent this with Puncuated Equilibrium)
- An example is the Cambrian explosion
- Mutation and natural selection cannot build such complex creatures, even if given the expanse of time since the Big Bang (14 billion years).
- DNA Alpha Helix structure (and other complex molecules)
- DNA is a complex information storage, transmission and processing system inside each cell.
- DNA is like a software program but more complex than any program man has written.
- Information is the product of intelligence. The foundation of life is in the DNA.
So, we have looked at past and present debates for the existence of God. Do any of these resonate with your sense of reason to accept the truth of the existence of God? Perhaps you had a merely childlike trust and faith in the existence of God in your heart, but now you can feel more certain in your mind that God is in control.